REPORT SAYS DRUG CONTROL IS WORKING
But U.N. Study Warns of Trouble Spots Around World
Washington - Opium poppy cultivation was down 22% worldwide in 2005, according to a study that the United Nations released Monday, part of a mixed report card on global efforts to combat drug trafficking.
Coupled with a stabilization of global markets for cocaine and amphetamines, the 2006 World Drug Report says, "drug control is working and the world drug problem is being contained."
Not all the news was good, however. The report also warns that cocaine consumption in western Europe is reaching "alarming levels" and says that global consumption of cannabis, the world's most popular drug, continues to increase.
In addition, officials warn that there could be an upswing in opium cultivation in Afghanistan, which is responsible for 89% of world opium production. Because of continued political turmoil, poverty and violence, Afghanistan's "drug situation remains vulnerable to reversal," the report says. "This could happen as early as 2006."
Opium poppy cultivation decreased in Afghanistan for the first time since 2001, when U.S. forces removed the Taliban from power.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, praised the "magnificent decline" in production of the opium poppy, the plant used to make heroin.
The report attributes the decline in opium production to cutbacks in Afghanistan, as well as a reduction in the so-called golden triangle in Myanmar and Laos.
Despite the worldwide decrease in production, heroin abuse has increased in the Milwaukee area over the past several years, and the drug is becoming increasingly popular among people in their 20s and teens, according to Erick Slamka, director of the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
After years of rapid increases, the global market for amphetamine-type stimulants - of which methamphetamine is the most popular - is stabilizing because of increased international support in controlling the precursor chemicals used to make the drug, the report says. But the number of people seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction in North America increased more in the past year than for any other drug.
According to top U.S. officials, marijuana abuse in America is also still a major problem.
John Walters, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, warned that there is still "a culture of denial" in this country surrounding the dangers of the drug.
"We are not sending the message on cannabis that we are sending with other drugs," he said. "It is not just a gateway ( drug ); it's a dead end."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2006 Journal Sentinel Inc.